Tuesday, 25 November 2014

You are what you tweet.

This week (and it’s only Tuesday) has been another round of “the hunger games of opinion” on Twitter.

A hashtag which Labour supporters decided was necessary, to bring down a PM, maybe now or maybe later, was deemed the most important thing that needed to happen.

It was possibly in order to deflect the flack inherent in the whole Emily Thornberry thing, who knows but it was organised, and orchestrated.

People like me have been wanging on about it, either as to it’s efficacy or it’s pointlessness ever since.

I was opposed to it.

Bullying mobs are to my mind the down and dirty, dark side of Twitter.

Whether peopled by individuals committing criminal acts of threats of violence, or organised groups directed to target “undesirables” by a leader, (as is what happened to me last year, and the year before and the year before that and etc.....) these are the methods, tools and weapons designed to frightened people into silence.

Either way it’s de facto bulling because it’s a group attacking an individual.

Jack Monroe fell foul of a mob.

In participating in the mobbing of the PM’s timeline, which I’m sure is run by David Cameron’s interns and not the man himself, she chose to reference his dead, disabled, 6 year old son.

Sarah Vine then fell foul of the mob by choosing to tackle Jack Monroe through her column at The Daily Mail.

She chose to reference Monroe’s circumstances and sexuality.

Both women felt justified, because they were enraged.  Both women were then subject to intense verbal attacks in the form of tweets. The mobs came for them and both mobs felt equally justified too.

I’m not expressing an opinion as to whether either of them was justified, that isn’t the point I’m making.

My point is this, being bullied by mobs has no justification at all.

There is a worrying and common theme emerging across social media and one, which isn’t addressed nearly enough.

The notion is foul but popular and now being adopted by political parties and their acolytes.

The acceptable rule now is that disagreement, with any point of view means that intense, en masse verbal attacks are appropriate.

The same people who no doubt participated in last weeks anti-bullying activities, are more than prepared to utilise the tactics and behaviours of bullies who target and often destroy, the peace of mind of any individual whom they decide is undesirable.

Simply having a different viewpoint on social media these days seems to be enough.

There is no middle ground, no nuance, and no “two sides”.  It’s agreement with the committee, or the committee silences you through sheer numbers of abusive tweets.

Jack Monroe is a person, so is Sarah Vine. Political affiliations don’t owe either woman the “reason to be attacked”, or “the right not to be attacked”.

No one deserves to be bullied, discredited, have their reputation trashed or silenced. Just because a few people believe so and a few thousand more are happy to do their bidding.

My tweet making this point and clearly taking neither side, meant that I was subject to multiple tweets from those determined to berate me for it.

That’s where we are now online, and for our own sake we need to realise that it’s wrong.

Weak people don’t get bullied, weak people are the friends of bullies.

If you want to address the reason why people feel justified in sending death and rape threats online, maybe it’s time to ask yourself if the bullying culture you find so abhorrent is one which actually, you have helped to create.

This needs to change.